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Ed Driscoll

This One Goes to 11

August 18th, 2013 - 9:17 pm

Is it possible for one disastrous gaffe to recall 1984 by George Orwell, along with Spinal Tap, that classic “mockumentary,” and Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live? Like Nigel Tufnel’s Marshall amplifier, this one goes to 11:

Quick: what’s 3 x 4?

If you said 11 — or, hell, if you said 7, pi, or infinity squared — that’s just fine under the Common Core, the new national curriculum that the Obama administration will impose on American public school students this fall.

In a pretty amazing YouTube video, Amanda August, a curriculum coordinator in a suburb of Chicago called Grayslake, explains that getting the right answer in math just doesn’t matter as long as kids can explain the necessarily faulty reasoning they used to get to that wrong answer.

“Even if they said, ’3 x 4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in, umm, words and oral explanation, and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong, we’re really more focused on the how,” August says in the video.

No, really:

In Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith observed:

He picked up the children’s history book and looked at the portrait of Big Brother which formed its frontispiece. The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you — something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?

Though of course, a repeated unfamiliarity with basic concepts of mathematics explains volumes about the current administration:

Earlier: The Zero-Sum Game of the Education Curriculum.

And don’t miss Paul Mirengoff of Power Line: “Nothing illustrates the bankruptcy of the modern civil rights movement more starkly than its war against school disciplinary standards.” Read the whole thing.™

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Math is now a subtle form of racism.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
The more things change, the more they stay the same:

"Consider the following subtraction problem, which I will put up here: 342 - 173.

Now remember how we used to do that. three from two is nine; carry the one, and if you're under 35 or went to a private school you say seven from three is six, but if you're over 35 and went to a public school you say eight from four is six; carry the one so we have 169, but in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing rather than to get the right answer.
"

Tom Lehrer, New Math, 1965
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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This is not Common Core. What you are seeing, if we take this tiny snippet at face value, that is, is what happens to any education concept after it passes through the alimentary canal of a large education establishment.

Sabotaging good ideas to make them fail, or heavily modifying those ideas to fit the dystopian needs of a large bureaucracy, is common practice.

Ardent Common Core supporters have been made fools of, for instance, by the NYC school system, which implemented "Common Core" EXACTLY as the critics had envisioned that concept. NYC and other gigantic public school systems have a contempt for excellence, and have shown it by taking a promising idea, and basically turning it into sh*t.

But what did the Common Core folks expect?

Do you know what "Common Core" really is, fundamentally? It is nothing more than a repackaged campaign to increase both literacy and academic discipline among children. Design such a system for enormous school systems' bureaucracies, and add intricate "standards" that need to be met, and you have completely defeated your original purpose.

Until education stops being a massive industry peopled by special interests, no amount of "attempts at excellence" will succeed.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
3*4 does equal 11. In base eleven! :D

(10 base eleven = 11 base ten)

But seriously, "New Math" screwed up math education for everybody. What this farce shows is that educators don't learn from experience.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm tired of the 1984 references. It's clear that Orwell was off the mark. Huxley's vision is more on the mark.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a retired school teacher I can state that the majority of people in the teaching profession are ill educated, ignorant and only concerned with the next raise due in their pay scale. Most of them have little knowledge of anything and the only thing that they concentrated on is the teaching of the democrat and communists parties. They are normally crude and low life living for their next drunken bacchanal and the administrators would all have made good Nazis since they will follow orders no matter what they entail in order to keep their cushy positions and salaries. Public education in Amerika is all about money and privileges for the educators. It is obvious when administrators send out missives to the faculty either they or their secretaries have a minimal knowledge of the English language and their speaking abilities rival that of street urchins in their commonness. Above all the American educators want to be liked since that is the key to success so the children under their tutelage must be pampered and told how absolutely wonderful they are. Immanetize the Eschaton
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tom Lehrer beat them to it half a century ago:

"...but in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing rather than to get the right
answer."
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Would you like your airline pilot to be able to answer this correctly?

I think so.

This is a major issue for America, too many kids get get out of school and can not read or write. A recent news reported that 80% of NYC HS grad's need remedial education in math and/or reading to enter a local community college. Give me a break.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
With the chaotic lives that most single-parent children live these days, the concrete facts of mathematics should be a life-line to those at risk. Just as a working knowledge of the English language is the first step up from poverty. These "educators" should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the headline from the past. You’re just catching on now to what teachers are really like? How old are you?
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since the President, himself, is innumerate... it all adds up.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let me ask you a few questions:
What is 3+2?
What is 4+1?
Can you justify your answers? No, saying that you were told the answers will not do.
What is 3x2?
What is 4x5?
Can you justify your answers? No, saying that you were told the answers will not do.

What does it mean to multiply two numbers?

Ed, I am afraid you distorted the subject. I suggest you listen to the video of teachers again.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Volski, you missed Ed's point, just as the educators have. Trying to teach logical reasoning at that grade level is a HUGE mistake because only the very smartest kids that age are smart enough to get it. You'll just confuse the rest. This is what happened with the "New Math" in the 60s. We are still paying the price for it. The educators have looked at the lousy results and decided we need even more of that technique, and we'll get even lousier results. Maybe we should teach the educators logic.

As to your questions, the kids should've been shown that at the very beginning and then moved on. The IRS won't ask you to justify the bare calculations.

By the way, let me ask you a question.

what is 2/3 * 3/4? Justify the technique you use. Just staying you were told the technique will not do.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nate,
Ratios are a different ballgame and you know it!
It is quite different to justify 2*3=6 from (2/3)*(3/4)=0.5.

Let me give it a try anyhow:

Notice 2*(2/3)*(3/4)=(4/3)*(3/4)=1,
so (2/3)*(3/4)=0.5.

Who is talking logical reasoning here? Can't you play with dominoes to see (4/2)=2? Take 4 dominoes and divide into two equal piles.
You are so blind in your "conservatism" that you are blabbing nonsense!
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nate,
If you did not follow 2*(2/3)*(3/4)=(4/3)*(3/4)=1,
so (2/3)*(3/4)=0.5, let me offer you another try:
Let x be 1 divided by 12. Therefore 12*x=1 and 2=24x, so
2/3=8x and 3/4=3*12x/4=9x. Now,
(2/3)*(3/4)=8x*9x=4*3*x*2*6*x=12x*6x=1*6x=6x=0.5.
Got it?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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